Sunday, 20 Sep 2020

Coronavirus: How quickly the virus is spreading in your region

Some regions in England are doing better than others in combating the growth of COVID-19, according to new government figures.

The latest R number across the UK remains the same as last week at 0.7-0.9, but the statistics vary across the regions, says the independent scientific group SAGE that advises ministers.

The R number means less than one person is contracting the virus from an infected person, something the government has been keen to maintain to keep infections down.

The rate in which the virus has grown or fallen across the UK in the past week ranges from -6% to 0%, as of 3 July – meaning it is falling but not as fast in some regions.

Due to regional spikes in the past week, the latest growth rate has a larger range than last week when it was -4% to -2%.

Sky News’ science correspondent Thomas Moore explained: “The UK’s R number is unchanged at between 0.7 to 0.9, showing the epidemic continues to slowly shrink, according to the latest assessment by the government’s scientific advisory committee.

“But SAGE estimates slightly higher values in some areas of the country. In London R is thought to be between 0.8 to 1.1. The Midlands and North East are also thought to have higher transmission rates, between 0.8 and 1.0.

“As numbers of cases fall estimates of the R number become less precise.

“The numbers will be a concern as pubs, restaurants and hairdressers re-open on Saturday.”

SAGE said it had observed increases and decreases in some of the estimates for R numbers and growth rates. It only looks at English regions as Wales, Scotland and North Ireland’s devolved governments monitor their R numbers and growth rates.

“These fluctuations are not considered to be significant due to the small size of the changes,” the group said in a statement.

“The most likely explanation for these changes is the uncertainty created when estimating these values based on increasingly smaller numbers of cases.”

It said the fewer cases there are, the more difficult it is to accurately estimate the R number and growth rates and just because an area has a positive number, it does not mean the epidemic is definitely increasing, just that it cannot be ruled out.

The latest regional R value and current growth rates are:

England: R = 0.8-0.9 Growth = -5% to -2%

East of England: R = 0.7-0.9 Growth = -5% to 0%

London: R = 0.8-1.1 Growth = -4% to +2%

Midlands: R = 0.8-1.0 Growth = -4% to 0%

North East and Yorkshire: R = 0.8-1.0 Growth = -5% to 0%

North West: R = 0.7-0.9 Growth = -4% to 0%

South East: R = 0.7-1.0 Growth = -5% to 0%

South West: R = 0.7-1.0 Growth = -7% to +2%

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